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US Oncology Applauds Journal of Clinical Oncology Study Highlighting Value of PET Scans for Cancer Patients With Various Types of Malignancies
Date:5/1/2008

National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR) Study Showcases the Need to Expand Use of PET Technologies in Driving More Effective Cancer Treatment

WASHINGTON, May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- US Oncology, which supports one of the nation's largest cancer treatment and research networks representing approximately 1,200 oncologists nationwide, applauded a national study appearing in today's Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) that demonstrates the value of positron emission tomography (PET) scans for treating patients with ovarian, prostate, pancreatic and other types of cancers.

PET scans are commonly used for the diagnosis, staging and restaging of cancers as well as the monitoring of tumor response to treatment for Medicare patients with nine types of cancers covered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS): breast, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, head and neck, non-small-cell lung, thyroid, lymphoma and melanoma. By providing images of cancerous changes at the molecular level, PET scans for these types of cancers have given physicians the ability to detect developments that can be undetectable with routine medical imaging and have become a powerful tool in fighting cancer.

CMS's Coverage with Evidence Development (CED) policy helps it determine its Medicare coverage policies for select promising technologies; the National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR) was developed in 2005 to meet CED coverage requirements for PET scans and to assess how fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET affects patient care. The JCO study, which reports the first-year NOPR results on the impact of PET scans on patients with noncovered cancers, showed that PET resulted in a 36.5 percent change in treatment decisions for these patients -- and that the impact of PET seems to be greater than the impact of body computed tomography (CT) scanning when it was introduced 30 years ago.

"The NOPR project itself represents a new benchmark for cooperation between CMS and the medical imaging community to help determine the value of new imaging technologies and their impact on patient management," said Dr. Landis Griffeth, US Oncology's National Medical Director for PET and Director of Nuclear Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center. "Furthermore, the results of this trial have confirmed that FDG uptake is generally applicable for tumor assessment in the vast majority of cancers, and that FDG-PET imaging provides crucial additional information in the evaluation of cancer patients -- information that often alters patient care."

In addition to impacting treatment decisions for more than one-third of the treated patients, the study -- which examined 22,975 PET studies performed in 21,419 patients in 1,178 centers nationwide - showed that the use of PET technologies for cancer diagnosis, staging, restaging and recurrence monitoring was associated with a strong reduction in unnecessary additional procedures and helped approximately 70 percent of patients with pre-PET recommended biopsies avoid the procedure as a result of the scan.

"We support Dr. Bruce Hillner's and his colleagues' research on PET scan use in cancer patients, and we hope that CMS takes today's study into account when it considers future National Coverage Decisions for cancer care," said Dr. Griffeth. "It is now time to lift the unnecessary restrictions on the use of PET and to allow the physicians caring for these patients to determine when and how to use this vital tool in oncologic care."

About US Oncology, Inc.

Headquartered in Houston, US Oncology works closely with physicians, manufacturers and payers to enhance patient access to advanced cancer care in the community setting. US Oncology supports the nation's foremost cancer treatment and research network in its efforts to accelerate the availability and use of scientific, evidence-based medicine.

According to the company's last quarterly earnings report, US Oncology is affiliated with 1,164 physicians operating in 443 locations, including 91 radiation oncology facilities in 39 states. For more information, visit the company's Web site, http://www.usoncology.com.


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